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Are you in a bullfight?

Not long ago, I spent an excellent few days working with some Managers at a refinery in Sohar, Oman. If you ever get a chance to visit the country, please take it as the scenery is breathtaking, the people are wonderful and the air is about as clean as you’ll ever get, being right between the mountains and the sea on the Gulf of Oman.

While I was there, one of the participants offered, very kindly, to take me on a tour of the city of Sohar and so we spent a delightful few hours whilst he showed me his city and told me something of the colourful history and, of course, the fascinating culture. One element of that tour struck me deeply and I’d like to share it with you here.

As we were driving along the main road, I spotted a large number of cars parked around a clearing and a rapidly gathering crowd. When I asked my guide, Rasheed, about this, he said, “Mr Ralph, you need to see this. Its a local pastime and I think you’ll find it interesting.” Imagine my shock when I asked what “it” was and was informed it was a Bullfight. Now I found I had a real inner conflict going on. On the one hand, I had no wish to be witness to a bloodsport, which I have a personal problem with, and on the other I had no desire to offend either Rasheed or his culture. So, reluctantly and with some trepidation, I got out of the car and followed him to join the large crowd surrounding a deep and very large hollow in the ground.

What I saw was, in fact, very thought provoking. Two massive oxen were engaged in a test of strength, pushing against each other much as they would in the wild I guess. No blood was being spilt and there were a number of very brave individuals managing the contest. Both bulls were bellowing at each other, digging their massive hooves into the dusty ground and each seeking to force the other back. After about five minutes of this tremendous tussle, one of the bulls suddenly broke off and walked away, leaving the victor to bellow his victory to all and sundry.

Afterwards, as we drove back to my hotel, I was struck by how very much this resembled the conflicts that go in our own lives, sometimes within us at a deeply personal level. two conflicting thoughts, ideas or values locking horns, pushing us back and forth and bellowing until one or the other gains the advantage. Shall I, shan’t I? Do I or don’t I? This choice or that choice? Sometimes the victor is the bull we would have chosen and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the conflict becomes so great we have to seek help in resolving it.

So, I’m wondering, is there a bullfight going on somewhere in your life? I know I’ve experienced many over the years. How about you?

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